Rutgers Board of Governors Approves Blau Wellness Center and Mental Health Fellowships

Allan Blau ED'63
Allan Blau on a recent visit to the building named for him. Photos by Luca Mostello.

A generous gift from alumnus Allan Blau ED’63 will support the Rutgers Youth Behavioral Health Initiative and establish graduate student fellowships. A new building will be named for Blau in the Brandt Behavioral Health Treatment Center and Retreat, which will open this year. 

Rutgers alumnus Allan Blau has dedicated his life to helping young adults and adolescents with significant emotional and psychiatric challenges. 

"At every turn, I've asked, 'How would I respond if these children were my own—regardless of financial factors?'" said Blau, a renowned clinician and pioneer in special education who earned his Rutgers undergraduate degree in 1963. “This mindset has consistently guided my work to ensure vital support for adolescents and to tailor educational initiatives accordingly.” 

The Blau Wellness Center will be housed in this new building on the Rutgers–New Brunswick's George H. Cook campus.
The Blau Wellness Center will be housed in this new building on the Rutgers–New Brunswick's George H. Cook campus.

He is bestowing an endowment to create a fellowship program to train the next generation of mental health clinicians, the Rutgers University Board of Governors announced. Additionally, a building at the Brandt Behavioral Health Treatment Center and Retreat will be named the Blau Wellness Center and will operate as an outpatient facility.

The interdisciplinary program will support 10 fellowships annually for Rutgers graduate students in the coming years.

The severity of the youth mental health crisis is evident, with statistics from the Centers for Disease Control indicating that more than one in five adolescents has seriously considered suicide, with young adults ages 18 to 25 particularly vulnerable.

"To address the mental health crisis, it's imperative that we empower the next generation to delve deeply into its core," said Blau, an alumnus of the Rutgers chapter of the Zeta Beta Tau, whose national organization is the first and largest Jewish fraternity. “Training requires a different kind of dedication, one that goes beyond the surface. That's precisely why I'm drawn to this cause. If, long after I'm gone, young people can truly find solace and thrive, then my life would have truly mattered. This, to me, encapsulates the essence of living." 

The fellowship will provide comprehensive training for future mental health leaders across a spectrum of disciplines, including psychology, social work, education, public health and public policy. Fellows will engage in weekly mental health and wellness training, leadership development, and hands-on experience at the Brandt Center.

"At Rutgers, our campuses provide unparalleled opportunities for students to receive advanced clinical training across a diverse range of settings," said Josh Langberg, who is Rutgers–New Brunswick’s chief wellness officer and director of the Center for Youth Social Emotional Wellness in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. 

Langberg is collaborating with Peggy Swarbrick, director of ScarletWella mental health and wellness program for Rutgers students, faculty and staff—to oversee the fellowship training program. 

"We need a holistic approach to tackle the youth mental health crisis,” Langberg said. “This initiative will meet that need by providing interdisciplinary training within a state-of-the-art facility."

Langberg expressed gratitude to Blau, whose gift will "empower students to lead in developing and refining education and clinical systems that foster wellness."

The fellowship will consist of two groups of students working collaboratively. Second- and third-year psychology and social work students seeking licensure will be provided with a stipend, tuition support and an intensive one-year training experience with licensed supervision. Students from other disciplines that impact mental health and wellness systems will receive stipends and engage in seminars and leadership activities alongside those pursuing licensure.

“The vision behind Allan Blau’s generous gift is directly allied with Rutgers’ mission to serve the common good through excellence in education, scholarship, and service,” said Rutgers–New Brunswick Chancellor Francine Conway. “This partnership will do so much to help young people in need while training our students to become the next generation of mental health practitioners.”

A Lifetime of Dedication

Throughout his life, Blau has maintained a steadfast dedication to enhancing mental health services for adolescents and young adults in New Jersey and beyond. 

Allan and Rosalyn Blau
Allan and Rosalyn Blau

He serves as the founding director of the Cornerstone Day School—a private therapeutic school in Cranford, New Jersey, for students in grades 5-12— and was the co-founding director of Effective School Solutions LLC in New Providence, New Jersey, which extends mental health services to more than 80 schools and 45 districts across the tri-state area.

With 40 years of experience in special education, Blau has aided thousands of adolescents in overcoming challenges and reintegrating students into public schools where possible.

A Program for Youth Behavioral Health

Blau's donation supports the construction of the Brandt Behavioral Health Treatment Center and Retreat, New Jersey's first treatment facility for adolescents and young adults backed by an academic health leader such as Rutgers.

The newly named Blau Wellness Center will operate as the outpatient facility at the Brandt Center. It stands as one of two new buildings devoted to youth mental health on Rutgers University–New Brunswick's George H. Cook campus.

The Brandt Center, made possible through a $30 million commitment by Rutgers alumna Marlene Brandt, will establish a gold standard for evidence-based behavioral health care and extend world-class treatment to many New Jersey youth and young adults. It will offer an array of services, summoning the resources Rutgers has at its disposal—namely its academic and clinical talent and research capacity—to offer advanced forms of treatment.

The center will draw upon the most advanced methodologies in psychology and psychiatry. At the same time, it will make use of strategies in social work, education, nutrition, and art and music therapy. The approach will be holistic, emphasizing the progress and development of the whole person.

“If we do not have adept caregivers, we will not be able to properly heal our distressed youth,” Brandt said. “The personnel responsible for patient care is undeniably the cornerstone of a treatment center. Dr. Blau’s gift will ensure the presence of exceptional caregivers, medical professionals and students who can mentor in our facility.”

University officials project the facility to serve more than 1,500 young adults annually. It is slated to open for patients this year.

The Brandt Center is a collaboration between Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care and Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

To make a gift to support the Brandt Center, please visit this Rutgers University Foundation page.

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